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The St Paul Choral Society Newsletter
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The St Paul Choral Society Newsletter

April 2017


This Newsletter is being resent because the previous one had a few issues which needed editing.  Apologies and enjoy.

 

OVERTURE

“I sing of brooks, of blossoms, birds, and bowers;
Of April, May or June, and July flowers.
I sing of Maypoles, Hock-carts, wassails, wakes,
Of bridegrooms, brides, and of the bridal cakes.”
Robert Herrick, Hesperides, 1648

For the SPCS choir, the next few months’ events include wedding and commemoration services, a recording by BBC4 of the service at St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral to be broadcast on Easter Sunday, and, of course, the forthcoming biennial choir trip, this time to Spain. The cathedral venues for the choral events are in Burgos and Leon, cities on the route of the Camino Frances which is the best known and most travelled pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela.  At this final venue, there will be to conclude the tour, participation at Mass in the Cathedral during the renowned Misa de los Peregrinos during which pilgrims who have travelled along the Camino, receive their compostela or certificate of completion of the pilgrimage.

If the choir is being kept busy; the choir director even more so.  Read about his role in connection with Malta’s Presidency in May over and above his already very demanding schedule.
Read also below, a few points about one of the choir's pieces in the repertoire, Haydn's The Heavens are telling, and  some information about John Rutter, some of whose works we sing.

I am sure that all except the new choristers, remember Alejandro Spiteri Monseigneur, the young up-and-coming musician who composed a piece of music and asked the choir to learn and sing it for him to record and present as part of his Systems of Knowledge sixth form project.  Read about the outcome of this venture further down, as well as items from Chiara Felice and Marcus  Teilman in Meet the Chorister section.

A very happy Easter to you all.

Anna Stivala

The images below show Burgos Cathedral cloister and León Cathedral interior
Leon Cathedral interior

IN THIS ISSUE:

___

Forthcoming events
The Choir is recruiting
The SPCS Director Hugo Agius Muscat and the Presidency of the Council of the European Union
The SPCS Choral Tour in Spain:  Burgos, León and Santiago – snippets of the places where events will take place
Franz Joseph Haydn: The Heavens are telling
John Rutter: English composer, choral conductor, editor, arranger and record producer
Alejandro Spiteri Monseigneur:  Coniuncti Concidimus, Dividuui Accidimus
Meet the Chorister - Marcus Teilman – Chiara Felice
Birthday greetings April - June
The SPCS Committee
Forthcoming Events

Sun 2 April 2017, 11.00 am - Singing during Eucharist (to be recorded for BBC Radio 4) – St Paul’s Pro-Cathedral
Sun 23 April 2017, late afternoon – Singing during Feast of Divine Mercy – Divine Mercy Sanctuary
Sat 15 July 2017, 5.30pm – Participation in a wedding
Tue 15 August 2017, evening – Possible singing during Operation Pedestal commemoration – St Paul’s Pro-Cathedral
Choral Tour on the Camino de Santiago, Spain
Mon 4 September 2017, evening – Concert in Burgos Cathedral
Tue 5 September 2017, evening – Performance in León
Fri 8 September 2017, evening – Singing during “Misa de
los Peregrinos” in Santiago de Compostela Cathedral
Sat 23 September 2017, evening – Investiture Ceremony, Order of the Holy Sepulchre – St John’s Co-Cathedral
Sat 4 November 2017 – Participation in a wedding
Sat 9 December 2017, 4.00pm – Participation in a wedding
Fri 15 December 2017, 7.15pm – Christmas Concert – St Dominic’s Church, Rabat
Sun 17 December 2017, 6.30pm – Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols – St Paul’s Pro-Cathedral
Mon 18 December 2017, 6.30pm – Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols – Holy Trinity Church, Sliema

The Choir is recruiting

 Do you enjoy choral music?  Or did you study a musical instrument in the past but had to stop playing for a while?  You might be just the type of person the St Paul Choral Society (SPCS) is looking for!  Our choir is now in its nineteenth year.  During 2016 we presented 16 musical events.  Our repertoire spans five centuries; we choose music that is a pleasure for us to sing and for our audiences to hear.  We recently held our biennial concert at St John’s Co-Cathedral where we sang music by Mozart, including his Requiem and Misericordias Domini.

 2017 is the year when the choir goes on its biennial tour abroad.  In September we will be singing in three prestigious cathedrals in Spain.  At the beginning of April, when we 
 participate 
at a service at St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, we will be recorded for the Easter dawn service to be broadcast on  BBC4. We also have other events lined up including singing at weddings and the traditional Advent programme in December.
 
We presently have space for young high sopranos, tenors and basses

If you’re at least 13 years old, love good music, and can dedicate two hours every Wednesday evening for our rehearsal together, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our choir director, Hugo Agius Muscat, by calling or messaging on mobile number 79705692 or sending an email to director@spcs.info
 

The SPCS Director Hugo Agius Muscat and the Presidency of the Council of the European Union

  
The Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) rotates among the EU Member States every six months and the country holding the Presidency drives forward the Council's work. The EU Council is an essential decision-
maker which together with the European Parliament (EP) adopts legislation and coordinates EU policies.

The Presidency is an opportunity for each Member State, regardless of its size or the length of the membership, to influence the EU agenda and guide EU
endeavours. Malta for the first time has assumed this task as from 1 January 2017 to 30 June 2017 taking it over from Slovakia and afterwards handing over the reins of the Presidency to Estonia.

Hugo Agius Muscat writes about his role in connection with Malta’s Presidency:
My biggest challenge during the Presidency is 
the organisation of eHealth Week from 10th to 12th May (www.ehealthweek.org).  This consists mainly of a High-Level eHealth Conference, organised by the Presidency and the European Commission, in collaboration with the Regional Office for Europe of the World Health Organization, and a Health IT conference and exhibition organised by HIMSS Europe.  We are expecting between 1,500 and 2,000 delegates for this, including high-level delegations from 28 EU Member States, the US, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland.
The overarching theme 
of eHealth Week 2017 is Data for Health: the key to personalised sustainable care. Data lies at the heart of service delivery and the development of effective health policy. During eHealth Week, speakers and delegates will explore the changing ways in which personal health data is created, stored, shared and used. Advances in bioinformatics support a paradigm shift towards tailor-made prevention and treatment strategies both for individuals and population groups. Opportunities are growing for ICT to support patient-centred health services and the involvement of patients in their own care, including access to personal health data, sharing of data, and mHealth applications.


My second biggest challenge 
is the eHealth Network meeting that will be held on 9th May: http://www.eu2017.mt/en/Events/Pages/eHealth-Network-Meeting.aspx (details yet to be uploaded): 65 eHealth specialists are expected for this one. 
Then as we go along I’m constantly being called upon to advise the Minister and other high-ranking Government officials, draft press briefings, attend extra meetings in Brussels, etc.  All over and above the normal day job.


 

 

The SPCS Choral Tour in Spain:  Burgos, León and Santiago

Over the past years the choir has sung in prestigious locations in London, Vienna and Paris. In September the choir will be touring Spain and singing in cathedrals in Burgos, Léon and Santiago.  Below are snippets of the places where these events will be taking place.
 

Burgos Cathedral  
The Cathedral of Saint Mary of Burgos is outstanding for the elegance and harmony of its architecture, and it is the only one in Spain which, for its cathedral building alone, has received the UNESCO World Heritage designation.
Its main façade is the Puerta del Perdón, with a starred rose-window and a gallery of statues of the Castile monarchs. On either side are its 84-metre towers, crowned by magnificent 15th century spires with open stonework traceries. Its most beautiful group of sculptures, however, is to be found on the Puerta del Sarmental façade, with the image of a Pantocrator surrounded by the apostles and evangelists. Inside, special mention should be made of the dome of the main nave, topped with a beautiful Mudejar vault.

Close by you will find the beautiful Escalera Dorada (golden staircase) by Diego de Siloé, built in the 16th century and inspired in the Italian Renaissance. In the side-naves of the cathedral there are 19 chapels, with the Condestable and Santa Tecla chapels standing out especially. There are also valuable works of art to be enjoyed: a unique collection that includes altarpieces, paintings, choir stalls, tombs and sculptures, amongst other objects.
 
The choir will be performing at Burgos Cathedral on Monday 4 September.
 
Cathedral of Santa Maria de León
Santa María de León Cathedral, also called The House of Light or the Pulchra Leonina is situated in the city of León in north-western Spain. It was built on the site of previous Roman baths of the second century which, 800 years later, king Ordoño II converted into a palace.
The Pulchra Leonina , the “Leonese beauty” is a masterpiece of the Gothic style of the mid-13th century. The design is attributed to the architect Enrique. By the late 16th century it was virtually completed. Dappled colours fall across the walls and floor, a tapestry of light flowing down from rows of luminous stained glass windows.
The cathedral stands atop the ruins of second century Roman baths, More than 1,000 years old, it leads to the legendary burial place of James the Greater, one of Jesus’ apostles and the patron saint of Spain. León has been compared to Chartres, thanks to the exceptional volume of stained glass. Spread across 137 windows totalling an area of nearly 1,800 square metres, the vast majority are original pieces from the 13th-15th centuries. Together with Chartres, it constitutes what may be one of the most important collections of its kind in Europe, if not the world.

The Cathedral Museum houses a large collection of sacred art. There are almost 1,500 pieces, including 50 Romanesque sculptures of the Virgin, dating from pre-historic times to the 18th century (From Wikipedia and ‘Plus Ultra’:  James’ blog)
The choir will be giving a performance at Leon Cathedral on Tuesday 5 September.

 The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela  is an integral component of the Santiago de Compostela World Heritage Site in Galicia, Spain. The cathedral is the reputed burial place of Saint James the Great, one of the apostles of Jesus Christ. The cathedral has historically been a place of pilgrimage on the Way of St. James since the Early Middle Ages, and marks the traditional end of the pilgrimage route.
According to legend, the apostle Saint James the Great brought Christianity to the Iberian Peninsula. In 44 AD, he was beheaded in Jerusalem. His remains were later brought back to Galicia, Spain
An outstanding example of Early Romanesque architecture, the cathedral was renovated numerous times in different architectural styles, including Gothic, Plateresque and Neoclassical.  Welcoming pilgrims is a splendid entrance called the Portico de la Gloria.  It features 200 figures from the Apocalypse story and the figure of St James the Apostle. The lavishly decorated Obradoira Façade (facing the square) is considered to be the finest example of Spanish Baroque style.
A Pilgrim's Mass (Misa de los Peregrinosis held in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela each day at 12:00 and 19:30. Pilgrims who received the compostela (the certificate of accomplishment given to pilgrims on completing the Way) the day before, have their countries of origin and the starting point of their pilgrimage announced at the Mass.  The Botafumeiro, one of the largest censers in the world, is operated during certain solemnities and on every Friday, except Good Friday, at 19:30. Priests administer the Sacrament of Penance, or confession, in many languages. (From Wikipedia and Planetware)
The choir will be singing during ‘Misa de los Peregrinos’ in this splendid Cathedral on Friday 8 September
 

Franz Joseph Haydn: The Heavens are telling

 

As part of its current repertoire, the choir will be singing The Heavens are telling from Haydn’s masterpiece oratorio, The Creation.

Throughout his long career, (Franz) Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) was recognised as a composer of genius.  After his death, his reputation was overshadowed by his near contemporaries, Beethoven (whom he taught) and Mozart (whose friend and mentor he was), even though their achievements owed an immense debt to his work.  He was the older brother of composer Michael Haydn.

Haydn was a prolific Austrian composer of the classical period, instrumental in the development of chamber music such as the piano trio and his contributions to musical form have earned him the epithets "Father of the Symphony" and "Father of the String Quartet".

Haydn spent much of his career as a court musician for the wealthy Esterházy family at their remote estate. Yet his music circulated widely and for much of his career he was the most celebrated composer in Europe.

The second of twelve children, Haydn was born in Rohrau, a town on the borders of Austria and Hungary.  At the age of seven, he joined the choir at St Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, and also learned the harpsichord and violin. 

The Creation is an oratorio written during Haydn’s later years, between 1797 and 1798, and is considered by many to be his masterpiece. The oratorio depicts and celebrates the creation of the world as described in the Book of Genesis.

The libretto, written by Gottfried van Swieten, was modelled on Milton’s Paradise Lost.  The work is structured in three parts and scored for soprano, tenor and bass soloists, chorus and a symphonic orchestra. In parts I and II, depicting the creation. the soloists represent the archangels Raphael (bass), Uriel (tenor) and Gabriel (soprano). In part III, the bass and soprano represent Adam and Eve.

The choral singers are employed in a series of monumental choruses, several of them celebrating the end of one particular day of creation.

The orchestra often plays alone, notably in the appearance of the sun, the creation of various beasts, and above all in the overture, the famous depiction of the Chaos before the creation.

The Heavens are telling appears at the end of Part I which celebrates the creation of the primal light, the Earth, the heavenly bodies, bodies of water, weather, and plant life: the first four days of the seven days of the Creation story as recounted in the Bible.

The home key of Part I, is C minor but The Heavens are telling at the end, switches to  C major, showing the triumph of light over dark and ending with the choral fugue on the words The wonder of his works displays the firmament and then a final homophonic section. The English text has a rather awkward translation of the Authorized Version's And the firmament sheweth the handywork of God. The unusual intensity of the ending may be the result of Haydn's piling of coda upon coda, each occurring at a point where the music seems about to end.

The Creation had its first public appearance in 1799 when Haydn conducted it, and Antonio Salieri, the Emperor’s Kapellmeister, played the pianoforte. (From:  The Great Composers and Wikipedia)

 

John Rutter: English composer, choral conductor, editor, arranger and record producer

 

Born in 1945, John Rutter studied music at Clare College, Cambridge, where he was organ scholar and then director of music from 1975 to 1979. In 1981 he founded his own choir, the Cambridge Singers, which he conducts and with which he has made many recordings of sacred choral repertoire (including his own works), particularly under his own label Collegium Records. He still lives near Cambridge, but frequently conducts other choirs and orchestras around the world.

He also works as an arranger and editor, most notably (in his youth) of the extraordinarily successful Carols for Choirs anthology series in collaboration with Sir David Willcocks (British choral conductor, organist, composer and music administrator (1919-2015).

Rutter's music is eclectic, showing the influences of the French and English choral traditions of the early 20th century as well as of light music and American classic songwriting. Almost every choral anthem and hymn that he writes has a subsequent orchestral accompaniment in addition to the standard piano/organ accompaniment, using various different instrumentations such as strings only, strings and woodwinds or full orchestra with brass and percussion.

Despite composing and conducting much religious music, Rutter told the US television programme 60 Minutes in 2003 that he was not a particularly religious man yet still deeply spiritual and inspired by the spirituality of sacred verses and prayers.  His composition  Mass of the Children was written after the sudden death of his son Christopher while a student at Clare College, Cambridge, where Rutter himself had studied. In 2001, Christopher was knocked down and killed in a road accident.

The SPCS sings a number of Rutter’s hymns viz, For the beauty of the earth, A Gaelic blessing, The Lord bless you and keep you, All things bright and beautiful, Angels’ Carol, Star Carol, Christmas lullaby, Look at the earth, Nativity Carol. ( From: Wikipedia.  Above photo shows John Rutter with The Cambridge Singers)

 

Alejandro Spiteri Monseigneur
CONIUNCTI CONCIDIMUS, DIVIDUUI ACCIDIMUS


Last year, the choir sang and recorded a 17-bar composition by young Alejandro Spiteri Monseigneur who presented this piece of music as part of his Systems of Knowledge project required to pass his sixth form exams.  The following letter was sent to our chorister Gunilla Bernhus who had enquired how he had fared in his exam:  


Thanks so much for messaging! The exam went very well, I was very close to getting full marks in fact! :) 
 
I have been up to many new things since we met. Wrote more compositions including a string quartet, some 
lieders, piano pieces, and more chorales. Next I'm planning to write for string orchestra, as I have been requested to write one for a particular event. I will pass the new choral scores to you and Dr.Agius Muscat so that you can see them and perhaps perform them too! I'd be very honoured. Also, I am planning to move to Scotland next year to study music composition there!
 
What about you? How has the choir been? Any upcoming concerts which I can attend? 
 
Please make sure to send my heartfelt regards to the rest of the choir. 

Meet the chorister:  Chiara Felice and Marcus Teilman

Chiara Felice

I began singing at a young age in my church choir and when I was 16  I joined the Manoel Theatre Choir in 1980, singing in various operas. I subsequently joined the Collegium Musicum Choir, the Choral Society and the Akkademja Choir as well as St Julian’s Choir singing many pieces with all. I also sang in several operettas.
I studied voice with soprano Antoinette Miggiani and for several years with Professoressa Blagovesta Karnobatlova Dobreva, at the School of Music and within the Voice Studio.  I sang the solo part of Dorabella in a concert version of Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte in 1991 and participated in various recitals singing operatic arias by Gluck, Mozart, Bizet, Saint-Saëns, Verdi and Pergolesi as well as Francesco Azopardi’s Mass for eight solo voices and
choir .
After a three-yearmaternitybreak I returned to teaching but I stopped singing at this time due to time constraints although I intended to return in a few years’ time:  rehearsal times at concert periods are tough, with a young child. As fate would have it, I was then offered a post as Director of the Spanish Cultural Centre and my dreams of singing vanished. 
Twenty-five years passed, but not
adaywentby, when I did not yearn to sing and last year, circumstances changed, and I had the opportunity to sing again.  Learning that the SPCS were performing Mozart’s Requiem, I contacted Dr Hugo.  I was warmly welcomed by all. 
I am now looking forward to the choir’s trip to Spain, a country I love, and around which I travelled as a student, a tour director, a tourist, a cycling backup driver…but never as a singer.  Bring it on!


Marcus Teilman

I have been travelling to Malta on a regular basis for the past ten years, but I moved here in October last year after my company acquired Highlight Media Group.  I got introduced to SPCS by our Legal Counsel in Malta, the same day as the Mozart Requiem concert in St. John’s Co-Cathedral, which I attended and enjoyed very much. I have been singing for 26 consecutive years in the Stockholm Boys’ Choir (yes, they do have a male choir); singing is something very important to me, as I’m working pretty much all the time. I work in iGaming, (as do many other Swedish people residing in Malta) as President and CEO. We are a listed company on the Swedish Stock Exchange, with offices in Stockholm in Sweden and in Sliema at The Strand.. My favourite music is cathedral music by British composers like Parry, Stanford and Vaughan Williams since I've always admired the choir of King's College, Cambridge.  Apart from singing I also enjoy skiing, travelling and basking in the Swedish summer (which lasts for approximately two weeks a year…) in the archipelago of Stockholm. I’m really excited to discover more of the Maltese choir culture this year!

Birthday Greetings

Rita Sant Fournier – 2 April

Maxine Chetcuti – 3 April

Andrea Azzopardi – 9 April

Hugo Agius Muscat – 27 April

Jackie Fenech – 30 April

Miriam Briffa – 1 May

Joseph Grima – 7 May

Joseph Farrugia – 7 May

Amanda Kaye – 18 May

Maurice O’Scanaill – 18 May

Brenda Farrugia – 18 May

Charles Muscat – 21 May

Josette Farrugia – 25 May

Margot Cunningham – 8 June

The SPCS Committee 2017-2019

Chairman: Maurice Tabone
Music Director: Hugo Agius Muscat
Secretary: Cecilia Agius Muscat 

Treasurer: Stephen Mangion
Members: Anne-Marie Agius, Joseph Farrugia (Tenor Section Leader) Josette Farrugia (Alto Section Leader) Amanda Kaye, Anna Stivala (Soprano Section Leader)

For more information about the choir please go to www.spcsmalta.org and www.facebook.com/StPaulChoralSociety

If you are interested in joining the choir please write to hugoam@maltanet.net

Copyright © 2017 SPCS, All rights reserved.


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